Each week, the queen of France answers questions of worry and wonder in this space, lending her wisdom for the masses. If you have a question for the queen, send an email to whatwouldmarieantoinettedo at gmail dot com.
A woman I work with is very close with one of my good friends. It’s total accident her friend and I now work in the same office. This coworker is one of those women who thinks everyone is their best friend, regardless of if they actually are, how long they’ve known someone or in what context. I realize that this is charming and quaint for some people, like she’s an eager puppy dog, I find it completely unnerving. Because of our mutual friend, she knows things about my life that I’d prefer she didn’t — things that I would never discuss with her and especially wouldn’t discuss with a coworker. Because of our mutual friend she thinks we are closer than we are. She is one of those people who shares every detail of her own life she can’t help but ask me inappropriately about things she’s heard second hand from my actual close friend. I don’t think she means to be inappropriate, but has absolutely no discretion. I don’t want to stop sharing with my close friend (which would stop info funneling) but I also don’t want to feel even more uncomfortable at work if I asked this woman to dial back. What do I do?
My darling, I was not the most discreet girl in my youth but as I matured so did my need for my own space away from clucking gossips or even curious eyes and ears. I lived in public at Versailles, as many do in the workplace, their lives served up in snippets to their coworkers in muffled cell-phone calls and attempts to keep work and personal lives separate. You will need a two pronged approach. When you talk to your close friend, mention how alarming it was to hear about your latest doctor’s appointment or hooky day coming from her mouth and ask her how she knew. She’ll likely be redfaced that she’d talked so freely herself without realizing how it might make you feel or what her loose-lipped friend might do. If she balks, you’ll know she sees your candid talks as gossip fodder and not the heart-to-hearts you’d imagined. If the coworker spills some tidbit, direct the conversation to work related matters and in private tell her that it makes you uncomfortable, and you’d rather keep girltalk to social situations.
In the meantime, and as a service to modern ladies, I thought I’d list some modern updates to my own favorite privacy strategies:
A queen seeks privacy
What I did: Install mirrors that covered her windows in the flick of a button.
What you can do: Assume your neighbors can see through those trees and invest in heavy, dark, light-blocking curtains.
What I did: Have a lock to her bedroom installed at Versailles she could activate from her bed.
What you can do: Spend that $14 to have a lock installed on the rooms that need locking.
What I did: Create a network labyrinth of private rooms that few were invited into.
What you can do: Create one special place to gather your thoughts, read in peace and have time for yourself, by yourself.
What I did: Steal away to Trianon to be with friends and confidants.
What you can do: Block toxic people from your social networking sites and day-to-day life.
What I did: Meet ministers in secluded, out-of-the-way spaces.
What you can do: Create physical boundaries such as removing extra chairs from your table and meeting in quiet places where gossips can’t see you.
What I did: Burn her papers to keep them out of revolutionary hands.
What you can do: Put your shredder and your passwords protection software to good use. Ask people who post unflattering photos to take them down (they usually will).
What do you think? Do you have comments to add? Give your advice in the comments.